12
Mar
09

Richmond Steamboats

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Before the turn of the century and for many years thereafter, excursions on the James River were popular amoung Richmonders. This is the “Pocahontas,” which made regular daylight trips to and from Norfolk and was a popular vehicle for moonlight excursions to Dutch Gap in the summertime.

pocahontas-steamboat

James River Landing

 

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For the Key West route, to replace the short-lived SHELTER ISLAND, the venerable CITY OF RICHMOND was purchased and renamed CITY OF KEY WEST in honor of her new home. This ancient wooden side-wheeler would give good service during the next several years as she threaded the “Inside” and “Outside” passages amoung the Florida Keys to and from Key West. She ran ran on a tri-weekly basis the entire season, leaving Miami on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and Key West on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. Departures from both ends were at 7a.m. so the maximum amount of daylight could be employed in the navigational hazards of the shoals enroute.

CITY OF KEY WEST # 5020 first saw the light of day in 1865 at her building in Athens, New York, Nathan and Edmonds being the constructor. Her durability was attested to by the fact that she was to have forty years of active years afterwards. She was distinguished by a sort of sway-backed appearance, tending to indicate that her powerful vertical beam engine located amidships was just too heavy for her. After an initial few months on the James River between Richmond and Norfolk just after the Civil War she went north to Maine waters. From 1866 to 1893 she was a “down-easter” being operated by the Portland, Bangor, Mt. Desert and Machias Steamboat Company (or one of its earlier predecessors under a similar nomenclature).

In 1893, still giong by her original name of CITY OF RICHMOND, she was sold to New London, Connecticut interests who had her for three years until purchase by a St. Augustine, Florida resident. She spent a few months in Florida as CITY OF RICHMOND and was in some way involved in helping to land munitions and men in Cuba during the filibustering days that preceded the Spanish American War. She rendezvoused with many filibustering vessels such as the famed THREE FRIENDS. However, in 1896 the Florida East Coast purchased her as a replacement for the ill-fated SHELTER ISLAND.

CITY OF RICHMOND’s chief Maine route was from Portland to Bangor using the so-called inside sheltered passage. She was of 939 gross tons, 600 net and her dimensions were 227.5 x 30.6 x 10 feet. A beamed-engined vessel, her cylinder was 36 inches in diameter and her stroke was 12 feet. Her paddle wheels were 36 feet in diameter.

CITY OF RICHMOND while in Maine service had one very serious accident. She was a very fast boat, the fastest on her route in fact and on a foggy morning in August, 1881 she ran aground on a ledge off Mark Island on the Maine coast. No lives were lost and the passengers were all safely landed. Her hull was severely damaged and in the repair her walking beam engine, stack and boilers were removed. Some ten years later when laid up for the winter at Pier 24, East River, New York City, she burned early in 1891. When raised in mid-March, 1891 two bodies (probably those of hoboes caught in the fire) were found in the wreckage.

from: THE FLORIDA EAST COAST STEAMSHIP COMPANY

by Edward A. Mueller

out of: STEAMBOAT BILL

NUMBER 158 SUMMER 1981

“Journal of The Steamship Historical Society of America”

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neptune-city-point

City Point, during Civil War

 

clara-cavett

Clara Cavett* Tarentum, Pa., 1905. See Towboat Directory, page 87. Lady in foreground unknown

This is one of my favorite Steamboat photos found at this site.

http://wiki.cincinnatilibrary.org/index.php/Inland_Riverboats_-_A

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1 Response to “Richmond Steamboats”


  1. 1 O3
    March 12, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I know the CITY OF RICHMOND has some conflicting accounts but it was such an interesting story I had to share it. There was also a later CITY OF RICHMOND that has some interesting history. It seems the accounts of steamboats is as foggy as the river and bay’s they traveled.


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1984 Computer portrait from State Fair

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